Immersion Vs Practical Use (Practical Use Wins 6-0)

I’ve been working on my Dead Wake game (trying to figure out why debug compile works and why release compile is broken – that’s another story I’ll tell more about after I’ve solved things), but I’ve also scheduled some time to test the Assassin’s Creed game. (It feels like Hitman meets Lara Croft – just my opinion for those of you who are interested.)

In that game I encountered a tiny problem with the menus. I’m never sure when the game is really saved. The game has this concept of “memories”, so things are “saved” when stuff is done with the “memory” (at least I hope so). I believe this is supposed to be more immersive, but to me it’s just more confusing.

If the game needs to be saved, then please tell me when it’s saved.

Every time I stop playing the game (hmm, that would be twice so far by the way), I get this chilling feeling that I cannot be sure if my progress is lost. (Especially since the game keeps saying “are you sure you want to quit – all unsaved progress will be lost” – and then I go hunt “save” button but there isn’t one – just memories…)

So, for Assassin’s Creed 2, I’d really hope you guys would like tell me clearly when game is saved. And like tell me that I can continue from the saved point when I get back.

Other thing I’d like to be able to exit the game without (1) first pressing ESC, (2) selecting EXIT game, (3) waiting loading screen, (4) clicking another EXIT button, (5) waiting in another loading screen, (6) selecting my profile (???), (7) then clicking QUIT.

The game feels good and is fun to play, but it’s bit annoying when something non-game related things are getting bit… well, in my way.

Not that I’d complain or anything.

Update: video about the EXIT sequence, thanks Ilya for the tip

By the way, almost all casual games are good at this: they clearly tell that “your progress is now automatically saved and you can continue from this point when you get back”. Not sure if something is lost in terms of immersion (I don’t think so), but at least I can rest assured that I know exactly where I can continue the next time when I get back.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Actually I think thats part of the ‘console’ attitude vs PC. Almost all console games save automatically, while PC games often have the option to save manually :)

  2. Here in PC I live in constant fear: I never know if it’s really saved, since occasionally it says something about “loading newer memory”, “synchronizing” – and sometimes “saving” in addition to “check point reached” and other stuff.

    It’s bit frustrating actually. I don’t know whether stopping playing will lead me next time I start the game…

  3. Hmm, I’m glad I played it on the 360. For some reason I never had troubles wondering if it saved or not.. I thought a message was shown after you’ve ‘done/completed something’? (been a while). And you don’t have to quit with the console .. either just turn it off or press the guide button > go to dashboard ;)

  4. In Stephen Downes’ OLDaily I just came across a blog post that goes right along with this, but in a different direction. Reminds me of some reactions to game piracy I’ve read, but I don’t remember from where.

    Article Quote:
    “It was either hard or disingenuous to refute the assertion – made by many at the conference – that people are willing to pay to license content if it’s easy enough to do so.” – http://copyrightandtechnology.com/2009/06/09/gridlock-at-the-world-copyright-summit/

    What I’ve come across says that if the official method of playing the game is easy enough, including price, support and features, players are willing to pay for their games. Seems like practical use is winning a lot more than just against immersion.

  5. I guess it’s better on consoles, where developers are required to be explicit on the subject of writing save data.

    IIRC, you can quit the game instantly by Alt-F4. For those who hadn’t played, the exit sequence is really that atrocious http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwOvuY0UbFM

    All that modern-era part of the game only kills the immersion for me. Am I really supposed to be playing a person who plays a game inside my game? I would enjoy the AC way more it it was straightly crusade-era.

  6. @Steven: Sure, snag anything you see here ;)

    @Katherine: heh, I did just the same…

  7. Smells like uninitialized variable(s) or good ol’ memory corruption :)

  8. I agree 100%. If I’m afraid something isn’t saving my progress, I’ll play a little bit, quit, test it to see if it saved, test it a few more times until I know when it is saving for sure, or until I give up and quit playing forever. If there’s a clear save button, or clear automatic saving, the game is MORE immersive because I don’t have to stop to test it, I don’t have to think about it, I can just save or reach save checkpoints.

  9. I think I’m going to snag this for my motivating learners thing over at http://Edubacon.com as it seems like some of the discussions I’ve read about regarding learning environments and player motivation. If it doesn’t work well functionally, it usually isn’t fun. Why? I’m not totally sure, but I suspect a lack of trust and not being willing to give yourself to the experience.

    So, I’m going to go leave a comment with a link to this there. Thanks for the great posts. Later.

  10. I would imagine it would actually be -worse- for immersion to have it unclear whether the save was successful, since the player will start wondering/worrying about that, rather than the game itself. Sure, popping up a message that says “Save successful!” doesn’t exactly fit in the game universe, but at this point, everyone is so used to it that they forget about it entirely as soon as they go back to playing.

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